CERTIFICATES OF APPROPRIATENESS


This material is presented for informational purposes only. Herron-Morton Place holds no liability for inaccuracies that may be contained herein. Individuals are urged to contact the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission for complete guidelines as may apply to your project.

What is a Certificate of Appropriateness?

A Certificate of Appropriateness is simply a document that you receive from the IHPC stating the specified work has been approved. A Certificate of Appropriateness is required before most exterior work begins, before a building permit can be issued, and before any variance of development standards, land use variance, or rezoning can be granted.

Certificate of Appropriateness Process

The first thing an applicant must do is determine the scope of work to be completed. This should be a detailed list of all work the applicant wishes to complete. After the scope of work is determined, the required type of approval can be determined by consulting the IHPC Policies and Procedures Handbook (available for purchase at the IHPC office) or by contacting the IHPC staff at 327-4406.

If the type of work being considered requires a Certificate of Appropriateness, an application can then be filed with the IHPC staff. The application is a one-page form generally completed by the owner or a representative. Documentation will usually need to be submitted along with the application. Documentation will vary by project, but generally includes photos of the area where work is to be done, drawings depicting any new construction or alterations, product literature, product samples, or color samples. If you have questions about required documentation or the completion of an application, please call the IHPC office.

Types of Approval

A Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is approved in three different ways depending on the type of work proposed. The three approval types are: Commission Approval, Hearing Officer approval, and staff approval. If different portions of the proposed work fall into different approval categories, the applicant may file separate applications to allow the staff approval process to commence while waiting for hearings to occur.

Commission Approval – Monthly Public Hearing

  • Hearings are conducted on the first Wednesday of every month at 5:30 pm. (Contact IHPC office for location.)
  • Submit application with required documentation and fee (if applicable) to IHPC office.
  • The hearing will be scheduled.
  • Notify all property owners within 100 feet of the property at least fifteen days before the hearing.
  • Return notarized affidavit of notice to IHPC before the hearing.
  • Staff recommendation will be mailed to the applicant prior to the hearing.
  • Attend the Commission hearing to present your case to the IHPC.
  • IHPC may approve, deny, or continue your case to the next schedule hearing.
  • If the project is approved, the Certificate will be available the following day.
  • Obtain the necessary permits. (Contact Permits at 327-8700 for further information.)
  • During construction, display the certificate where it is visible from the street.
  • Work may proceed. Certificates expire in one year.

Hearing Officer Approval – Weekly Public Hearing

  • Hearings are conducted each Tuesday at 12:00 noon in the IHPC office.
  • Submit application with required documentation and fee (if applicable) to IHPC office.
  • The hearing will be scheduled.
  • Notify all property owners within 100 feet of the property at least fifteen days before the hearing.
  • Return notarized affidavit of notice to IHPC before the hearing.
  • Attend the hearing. Hearing Officer may approve, deny, or continue the case.
  • If approved, the Certificate will be available after 12:00 noon the following day.
  • Obtain the necessary permits. (Contact Permits at 327-8700 for further information.)
  • During construction, display the certificate where it is visible from the street.
  • Work may proceed. Certificates expire in one year.

Staff Approval – No Public Hearing

  • No public hearing or public notice is required.
  • Submit application with required documentation and fee (if applicable) to IHPC office.
  • The certificate will be issued when the staff determines that the proposed work complies with the Historic Area Plan. If proposed work is approved, the Certificate of Appropriateness will be issued, often while you wait.
  • Obtain the necessary permits. (Contact Permits at 327-8700 for further information.)
  • During construction, display the certificate where it is visible from the street.
  • Work may proceed. Certificate expires in one year.

Helpful Hints for an Easy Approval

  • Clearly determine the scope of the project.
  • Talk with the IHPC staff early in the process.
  • Make an appointment to assure the staff has adequate time to assist you.
  • Find out from staff if a hearing will be required.
  • Provide thorough documentation.
  • If a hearing is required, do not forget to send notices to surrounding property owners and the affidavit to the IHPC staff.
  • Obtain any necessary permits.
  • Contact IHPC staff immediately if plans change during construction. Changes can often be accommodated by staff. Display Certificate of Appropriateness in a visible location along with permits.
  • An extension of the Certificate is needed if the work is not completed within one year.

Public Hearings

The IHPC holds monthly public hearings to issue Certificates of Appropriateness, Rezonings, and Variances for work to be done in historic areas. The Commission meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in Room 120 of the City-County Building (date and location are subject to change). The IHPC’s Hearing Officer holds weekly public hearings to issue Certificates of Appropriateness. These hearings are held in Room 2060 of the City-County building.

The public is welcome to attend all meetings of the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission.

The IHPC has granted its staff permission to approve Certificates of Appropriateness in certain situations. In these cases, no public hearing is necessary. Ask the IHPC staff if a hearing or staff approval is applicable for your project.

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